How Much Does A Boat Lift Cost? Multiple Options

Whether you have a boat, jet ski, or another type of water vehicle, you are going to need something to lift it out of the water in order to limit the amount of water damage it receives, as well as prevent damage to both the vehicle and the dock. Having a boat lift also greatly reduces the chance of algae growing on your boat, and extends the boat’s lifespan!

Boat lifts usually range anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000. Typically the price is affected most by how much they can lift, typically it will cost about $1,500 per ton the boatlift can handle. The type of lift will affect the price with hydraulic boat lifts being the most expensive.

When you are looking to get a boat lift, you are going to have 4 different options; hydraulic lifts, vertical lifts, elevator lifts, and cantilever lifts. I will cover the differences between these lifts and how much each type of lift is going to cost you on average. Along with that, I will go over some options to save money on your next boat lift.

Hydraulic Lifts

Hydraulic boat lift systems are going to be the most unique type of lift out of the types I am going to cover. The two main differences that you get with hydraulic systems are the fact that it doesn’t use any sort of cable and that it is nearly silent. And since there aren’t any cables, you aren’t going to have to stress about maintenance or repairs that many other boat lifts need.

Unfortunately, if you are wanting to get a boat lift that is easier and doesn’t need as many repairs, you are going to have to pay a higher price tag. While it isn’t always the most expensive type of boat lift, it tends to be more expensive with the cost ranging from $2,000 up to $12,000. As it will be with every other type of boat, the more weight you need the lift to be able to hold, the more expensive the lift will be.

Vertical Lifts

You most likely are able to guess how vertical lifts work. You place your boat above the bars and then as you raise the lift, it brings the boat upwards and out of the water. These lifts typically will have 4 or 5 cables and use around 7 to 10 pulleys.

The biggest benefit that you get with a vertical lift is the amount that it lifts your boat out of the water. Most other lifts will only raise your boat out of the water by a foot or two, but vertical lifts can easily manage to lift your boat upwards of three feet, offering extra protection for your boat.

However, this extra lifting ability is going to come with a higher price tag. Along with this, verticals have much more strain than most other lifts, meaning that you are likely going to experience more maintenance problems with your lift, and these repairs can be very expensive.

On average, the cost of a vertical lift can range from between $6,000 and $20,000. This is a large gap, but the typical price of a lift capable of lifting 5,000 lbs is around $8,000.

Elevator Lifts

The elevator boat lift system is a very nice option that is almost a mix of a hydraulic and a vertical lift system. With both the vertical and cantilever lifts you have to hand crank the lift, but the elevator lift does that for you. You simply have to get on the lift, then press the activate function and you will see the lift bring the boat up and out of the water.

The drawbacks that you might have to deal with can be extremely annoying though. If you happen to ever lose power, then you won’t be able to get your boat in or out of the water. But this isn’t likely to happen so you are fairly safe from this situation. Besides this drawback, an elevator lift is great for those who don’t want to or can’t hand raise or lower their boat each time.

All of these conveniences do come with a larger price tag. On the low end, you can expect to pay about $8,000, but this is really only for those who have smaller and lighter boats. The upper end of the average is $20,000, and an elevator lift capable of lifting 10,000 lbs is going to be on average $10,000.

Cantilever Lifts

The cantilever is a unique type of lift. Unlike both the vertical and elevator lifts, which raise your boat directly upwards, the cantilever lift raises the boat either diagonally or horizontally. This lift is simpler and has just two H-shaped structures, which use a single cable at both the front and back to lift the boat.

This type of lift is going to be the best for those who are looking for a lift that isn’t going to require much maintenance. Because it uses just a single cable and a three-pulley system, it greatly reduces the strain on the lift so it is going to have a longer lifespan and require less maintenance. And if you do ever have to make any repairs to the lift, they tend to be quick and cheaper and the lift is fairly simple. These lifts also don’t require any sort of power to operate.

Click here for a more in-depth article about Cantilever and Vertical boat lifts.

The average price for a cantilever lift is going to be in the range of $700 and $3,500. If you get a cantilever lift that can hold up to 5,000 lbs. then you can expect to pay about $3,500, and any weight above that will quickly raise the price, and cantilever lifts are made for smaller water vehicles.

How To Save Money on a Lift

If you are looking to purchase a boat lift but are also looking to save a lot of money, then you are going to want to look for a secondhand boat lift. Websites like eBay or Craiglist or other third-party stores might be willing to sell boatlifts for cheaper than online dealers.

You are going to want to do plenty of research on the boat lift you are purchasing through these sites to ensure it is the right lift for you and that it still works.

If you do buy used, look at my other article all about moving a boat lift. It will definitely help out.

Another option, if you have the time and materials, is to build your own boatlift. There are plenty of tutorials that you can find across the internet that show you how to build the type of lift that you are looking for, it will just take much more time to build.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of different options when it comes to boat lifts. The big thing to remember is weight! Make sure your boat lift will be able to lift your boat or you possible just wasted 5000 dollars. Boat lifts really help keep your boat in better shape. Having your boat out of the water will make it much easier to work on and maintain. If you can get a boat lift, just make sure to take it out of the water to clean and inspect from time to time. Cheers!


Boatlifehq owner and author/editor of this article.

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